Turtle Mountain became my first scramble of 2005 on a gorgeous spring-like Saturday morning in early March. The wind was howling as is customary in the Crowsnest Pass area as I set my feet towards the summit at about 7am. I left Calgary at 4am in hopes to bag my last two remaining summits in the Crowsnest area in one shot. Alas, I made it 3/4 way up Sentry that afternoon and dozed off behind a big rock in the warm sunshine and woke up to realize that I didn't feel like tackling another summit in the horrible wind so I still only came away with one.
Turtle Mountain is not hard but don't be deceived from the first 'false' summit. You still have at least an hour to go from here. You have to cross the interesting rock garden from the slide, and then you'll have to down climb a fairly significant amount before heading back up to the true summit.
The summit view was fantastic for me because of the snow. Without that I think it would be quite drab because of all the burnt timber from the forest fires of 2002. Also, be warned about the wind. If the forecast for the Crowsnest area calls for winds over 50km/h you will have very serious wind gusts at any summit you attempt in the area. This may not sound like a big deal but even at 175lbs with a 30lb pack I felt in jeopardy of blowing clean off the mountain at several points! You don't want to be leaning over the edge for a good peak at the slide when one of those 100km/h gust comes along. I also find that the constant roaring of the wind in your ears can drive a person bonkers after 3 or 4 hours! There - you've been warned! ;)
[A view on the way up of the road ahead. It may look easy but it's still a good hour or more away. What you can't see is the dip in the facing slope about half way up.]
[You can see the destruction of the forest fires from 2002. Hillcrest at extreme left.]
[A beautiful morning with a sea of peaks to fill the eyes.]
[Vern at the summit of Turtle Mountain.]
[Frank Slide from the summit of Turtle Mountain.]
[The Crowsnest Pass towns with Crowsnest Mountain in the background.]
[The crux. Without snow this would not be a problem but the whole slope was frozen and covered with ice.]
[The 'Kane Rock' from a completely different angle.]
[The first peak on the way back down from across the broken rock garden.]
[The winter mountain landscape is hard to beat. This is Andy Good, Parrish and McLaren in the Flathead Range to the west.]